The percentage of children between 6-14 years of age enrolled in government and private schools has gone up from 97.2% in 2018 to 98.4% in 2022, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) report released on Wednesday revealed. Despite the uptrend in school enrollments, children’s basic reading ability dropped to pre-2012 levels, the report found. "Drops are visible in both government and private schools in most states, and for both boys and girls," the ASER report said.
Additionally, the number of enrollments in government schools in the above-mentioned age group saw an increase from 65.6% in 2018 to 72.9% in 2022, the ASER report found. Around 7,00,000 children in over 19,000 villages across 616 districts in India were surveyed for the report.
Here are key takeaways from the report:
Dip in reading skills
Class III students who could read material meant for Class II in Class III dropped from 27.3% in 2018 to 20.5% in 2022. "This decline is visible in every state and for children in both government and private schools," the ASER report said. The report said, "States showing a decline of more than 10 percentage points from 2018 levels include those that had higher reading levels in 2018, such as Kerala (from 52.1% in 2018 to 38.7% in 2022), Himachal Pradesh (from 47.7% to 28.4%), and Haryana (from 46.4% to 31.5%). Large drops are also visible in Andhra Pradesh (from 22.6% to 10.3%) and Telangana (from 18.1% to 5.2%)."
In 2022, students enrolled in Class V who could read the text for Class II dropped to 42.8%, the ASER report found. The percentage stood at 50.5% in 2018. States like Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh registered a drop of around 15% or more on this indicator, the report said.
However, states like Bihar, Odisha, Manipur, and Jharkhand showed marginal improvement.
The report further said that nationally, 69.6% of children in 2022 enrolled in Class VIII government or private schools were able to read basic text, which is a drop from 73% in 2018.
While the report noted that nationally, the basic arithmetic levels of children have declined since 2018, the declines are "less steep and the picture is more varied than in the case of basic reading." While in 2018, the percentage of children enrolled in Class III who could "at least do subtraction" was 25.9% in 2022. This was a decrease from 28.2% in 2018.
Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh showed either maintained the level or slight improvements since 2018. "Steep drops of more than 10 percentage points are visible in Tamil Nadu (from 25.9% in 2018 to 11.2% in 2022), Mizoram (from 58.8% to 42%), and Haryana (from 53.9% to 41.8%)," the report noted.
The proportion of children in Class V who can do division has fallen from 27.9% in 2018 to 25.6% in 2022, though Bihar, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, and Sikkim have shown "slight improvements".
For children enrolled in Class VIII, the proportion of students who are able to do division saw a marginal increase from 44.1% in 2018 to 44.7% in 2022. "This increase is driven by improved outcomes among girls as well as among children enrolled in government schools," the report said.
English reading skills
The ASER report noted that there has not been much of a change in the percentage of children in Class V reading "simple English sentences" from 24.7% in 2016 to 24.5% in 2022.
The report noted that there has been a slight improvement visible for children in Class VIII, from 45.3% in 2016 to 46.7% in 2022.
For students of Class III, the report said, "Of children in Std III who can read words but not sentences, in 2022 about half could tell the meaning of the words they had read (55.3%). For children who are able to read sentences, comprehension increases in higher grades. For example, 55.3% of all Std III children who can read sentences in English were able to tell the meaning of the sentences, while 68.5% of all Std VIII children who can read sentences could do so. The assessment of children's English reading skills was last done in 2016."
The report noted that children were assessed for English reading skills the last time in 2016.
Enrollment picking up in government-run schools
According to the ASER report, between 2006 and 2014, there was a steady decrease in the proportion of children in the age group of age 6 and 14 enrolled in government schools. "In 2014, this figure stood at 64.9% and did not change much over the following four years. However, the proportion of children (age 6 to 14) enrolled in government schools increased sharply from 65.6% in 2018 to 72.9% in 2022," the report said.
Number of girls out of schools
In 2022, around 2% of girls in the age group of 11 to 14 are not enrolled in schools, with Uttar Pradesh having the highest number of girls out of schools, at 4%. The percentage of girls in this age group who were out of school in 2006 stood at 10.3%, according to the ASER report with the number falling to 4.1% in 2018.
For the age groups 15-16, the decrease in the proportion of girls not enrolled in school is even sharper, the report said. In 2022, the number of girls out of school in this age bracket stood at 7.9%, while the number in 2018 was 13.5%.
Madhya Pradesh with 17%, Uttar Pradesh with 15% and Chhattisgarh with 11.2% are the three states that have more than 10% of girls in this age group who are not enrolled in schools.
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